Formula 1 risks turning into WWE, former driver warns

Former driver Stefan Johansson fears Formula 1 is “getting into a very dangerous territory” and risks turning itself into motorsport’s equivalent of WWE.

The dramatic and highly controversial end to the 2021 season, where race director Michael Masi appeared to ignore regulations to set up a spectacular final lap finish between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, has left the sport divided with many feeling the Briton was unfairly robbed of a record-breaking eighth world championship.

Johansson, who raced for both Ferrari and McLaren during an 11-year F1 career, is one of those who is concerned the sport sacrificed competitive integrity for the sake of entertainment in Abu Dhabi.

“In the end, I think both Max and Lewis deserved to win the title this year,” Johansson wrote on his blog.

“They both drove at such a high level and both their teams operated at equally high levels, and it would have been such an incredible ending to the year to have it decided fair and square on the racetrack.


“Instead, we now have this endless controversy and polarization. I’m sure the folks at Liberty are not complaining as this has lifted F1 to a whole new level in terms of people following.

“But, if this is the direction it will continue, where the entertainment comes before the sport, I think we’re getting into a very dangerous territory, I would hate to see F1 turning into the Motorsports version of the WWF [now known as WWE], where it’s just a show and the sport is secondary to the entertainment.

“The Netflix show has obviously helped lift the profile of F1 immensely, especially in the US. I know how many of the teams and drivers feel about it, but you still can’t deny the impact it’s had. Personally, I had to tune out after 15 minutes.

“I think it’s important to find a good balance going forward, I appreciate social media and marketing from every possible angle is important, but I would hate to see the drivers turning into some sort of comedians and clowns rather than brave young men doing their thing on Sunday afternoons.”

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